Breastfeeding is a topic of conversation all over the world for numerous reasons. The biggest disappointment in regards to this topic is how the mothers that choose not to breastfeed are being thrown into the lion's den. Horrific comments are made about how "less of a mother" a woman is for not breastfeeding her child straight from the boob, and mothers that cannot breastfeed their children are being forgotten or shamed by the activists, before being able to explain their actions. Through my poll with people via Facebook that agreed to share their thoughts, I agreed to keep their anonymity in efforts to not further their harassment.
I think there is a head space, or even a meditative space, a mother may fall into while breastfeeding, that she (the mother) would miss out on, if she chose to bottle feed. But at the end of the day, as long as both mother and child are cared for, I believe it makes no never mind how a parent accomplishes it.
Through responses of 10 women on Facebook that chose not to or cannot breastfeed straight from the boob, the majority of them have been affected negatively by their decisions. One woman shared, "My own mother told me that my child will not be smart and will not grow into as beautiful of a human being if I stuck to my guns and chose not to breastfeed." Of the mothers polled, those who are already mothering toddlers, who were never breastfed, stated that their children have developed great and have not shown any lack of development.
When asked what they would gain from not feeding straight from the boob, the answers were astoundingly identical. Mothers who breastfeed are providing their child with one source; therefore, they cannot be apart from their child for periods of time when a feeding will be necessary. A breastfeeding mother disclosed that she regrets not introducing both bottles and breastfeeding to her child as a newborn because her daughter refuses a bottle which has prevented her from being able to do things without her infant. "Freedom" was the phrase every non-breastfeeding mother described as a benefit to not feeding straight from the boob.
I gained freedom from not breastfeeding straight from the boob. The father of my baby can take her with him whenever he would like and I do not have to go if I would rather stay home or if I needed time to go to the grocery or mall, without needing to bring our baby. I also appreciate and admire when I can watch him feed our baby and have their own bonding time.
Life is full of trials and if not being able to breastfeed is the worst of them then I will be very thankful! My son depends on me for survival, breast or not, and being able to provide a beautiful healthy life for him is the goal. I feel that every woman needs to choose what is best for herself, the baby, and her family.
Medical conditions are often put to the wayside when it comes to the conversation about breastfeeding. Through the Facebook poll, I spoke with women who survive their daily lives with clefts, Bipolar Disorder, Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Seizures, and Depression. There were also women that couldn't produce milk or their nipples were too flat for the baby to latch onto. These women explained that their medical conditions are all out of their control, but they were still harassed by family, friends, and social media for being unable to breastfeed their children.
When asked if they were breastfed and if that had an effect on their decisions, not one of them made a decision based on whether they were breastfed as infants. However, the women with medical conditions had no choice in the matter. "I was not breastfed due to a similar situation happening to my mother when I was born, that happened with my daughter. It had no influence in my decision though, but did help me get over my sadness about it."
I was not breastfed as a child because my mother was young and felt sexualized by men that would stare at other women's breasts in public, so I was bottle fed with formula from day one. I was told during my pregnancy by family and friends that my child wouldn't develop as great if I bottle fed my baby... I argued that it wasn't true. I was top of my class my entire childhood and graduated with honors one year early as Valedictorian. These accusations about babies being less developed by formula are despicable and mothers who shame other mothers should be embarrassed.
Four men were asked about their views on breastfeeding and their children's mothers' decisions. Two of the men, whose significant others breastfed, mentioned their lack of true bonding time with their children. "I would never tell my wife this, but she got it all with our daughter. I would have liked to feed our daughter in the nursery alone and rock her to sleep -- but breastfeeding made me lose out on this opportunity." The other men were fathers of bottle fed children, "I gained skin-to-skin feeding time with my son, and I could take my son with me whenever I wanted without my girlfriend coming along for feeding purposes. And she got time to herself, which I know she appreciated."
The consensus from the mothers and fathers were to feed and care for the children to the best of their abilities; it shouldn't be a situation that one is better than the other and mothers shouldn't be made to feel less of a mother for not feeding straight from the boob. "My nurses and midwife told me that my child would lack the proper nutrition from formula, clearly they were all wrong because my toddler is doing very well."
The campaigns out right now that are encouraging women "breast is best" are intimidating and ill, even for me as a mother. I have read endlessly about how I need to latch my child to my boobs because it's empowering. I don't feel less of a woman or mother because I choose not to do this, I feel empowered by allowing my husband to fulfill parenting duties as well.
While the world focuses on children who are being provided for, we should focus on the children who are lacking the opportunity to be cared for properly, breastfed or not.
Thank you to all of the Mother's and Father's who contributed to this article via Facebook.
Share your breastfeeding experiences in the comment section below.
Special thanks to Kim for her help with this article.